The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing a whole lot of something I don’t usually do: group brainstorming sessions.
I have a new project–and I cannot, of course, go into detail, because it’s so tentative still that there’s no detail to go *into*–but I have a project that’s gotten some editorial interest. It would be a Large Project, large enough that I did a pre-proposal for my editor before even thinking about doing a proposal.
What’s a pre-proposal, you ask? Well, in this case it’s 8 pages of very general plot, world, and character sketches: enough to say “Is this perhaps the kind of thing you’re looking for?” This project would be so big that I needed a sense of whether I was even in the right ballpark, whether it was something that *seemed* like it was on the right track, before I could even consider writing a *real* proposal for it.
The great thing is that my editor was definitely interested–she thought it was the Right Kind Of Thing–and she even willing to take the pre-proposal around to other editors at the house to see if they too thought it was the Right Kind Of Thing. I decided against that, because if I had a sniff of interest from her I thought it would be better to put together something more comprehensive as the real selling package. This means I’m probably going to put in 6-12 weeks of work on something that might never sell…but I feel that putting that time in and making it shine is far more likely to make it sell than hoping editors will see through the rough to the diamond beneath.
But: it’s a kind of project I’ve never come anywhere near doing before. This makes it INCREDIBLY EXCITING! …and also somewhat alarming. So for the first time in years, I’m actually going to a small group of people and laying out my initial thoughts and ideas and asking for feedback and *their* leaps of intuition and consideration.
Typically I’ve done this kind of thing with my husband (who is flipping brilliant at it) and one other friend, and it’s always been incredibly helpful. But I like to work…not exactly in a vacuum, obviously, but I don’t like a lot of interference once I get started. It makes me uncertain, and I need to feel confident in what I’m doing or it all goes to hell.
This, however, is very much pre-starting material, and wow, it’s been so, so fun and so enlightening. I’ve got, I don’t know, half a dozen anyway, professional writers in this brainstorming group, and at least that many, possibly twice that many, readers. Some of the readers in particular are evidently really enjoying getting to see my process, especially when I take something they suggested and lay it out in a way they never imagined. The writers are particularly sharp on the “here are places and books to use for research” front, and as a whole *other* peoples’ excitement helps build mine. It’s been a really terrific experiment thus far, and I’m wonderfully glad I’ve decided to go this route with this particular project.
How about you guys? Do you do a lot of group brainstorming? Do you belong to writers’ groups? How’s it work for you?